SA gets super-fast fibre broadband - at a price

Internet cable. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Internet cable. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cape Town - A new broadband service aimed primarily at South African companies offers super-fast internet speed, but it comes at a price.

Internet service provider Cybersmart on Tuesday announced the launch of Lightspeed, a 100mbps (megabits per second) uncapped fibre service. At that speed, the service allows companies to compete with first world counterparts, but you have to have deep pockets to access it.

"As a result of prohibitively expensive internet access, South African companies are lagging far behind their international peers in terms of the adoption of new technologies such as cloud-based services, off-site hosting and video conferencing," said Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov.

The company claims the fibre broadband service is cheaper than competing offerings, but out of range of most households at R11 999 - that's per month.

Broadband infrastructure

But Fialkov argued that the price for companies doing business on the internet was worth it for the advantage it could offer.

"Globally, ultra-fast internet access has brought about innovation in many key growth industries including the IT, business process outsourcing, financial services and marketing and media sector."

Still, the cost of the service is perhaps an indicator of how far behind developed countries South Africa's broadband infrastructure is.

Some consumers in Russia pay the equivalent of R300 per month for an 80mbps fibre line, while Japan in 2013 launched a fibre to the home offer at 2gbps (gigabits per second) for about ¥5 000 ($50 or around R500) per month.

In SA, there are only around six million lines capable of delivering cable broadband connections through Telkom, and of those, only about 800 000 are linked to ADSL subscriptions.

The government has indicated that to meet the goal of 100% broadband coverage by 2020, mobile networks will have to be expanded and operators Vodacom and MTN have already publicised plans for broadband rollout.

Cost is a major issue, but Fialkov challenged company executives to weigh up the multiple costs related to their cyber infrastructure.

"In the current economy, IT managers and CIOs are under immense pressure to lower their IT costs. We’d urge them to calculate their total spend across their IT services including the company voice line, VoIP, web hosting and cloud back-up services."

Cybersmart promises that the service has a guaranteed uptime from 07:00 to 19:00.

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